Meet Mridula. She is from India, had lived in Germany and for the past 39 years has called Canada home. Different countries with different cultures, but she has tied them together with her volunteering.
Mridula first started volunteering at her son's kindergarten class when she lived in Germany. She did not know German at all, but volunteered at the school, where making sandwiches for a school event was one of her first volunteer responsibilities. What would make her volunteer when she had moved to a new country? She did so to be part of the community, to learn the language, to help herself and benefit her son, as well as to expand her social network.
From Germany, she moved to Canada. Here too, she volunteered and was the VP of the Parent Teacher Association, which was very involved in school events. She moved locations and turned to volunteering to get more experience, for social networking and to find a way to spend her time. She volunteered at the Harbourfront's Children's Festival engaging with kids, as well as with adults. She had fun, enjoyed meeting people, and also built and expanded her networks, which was tremendously valuable to her.
While employed at RBC, she volunteered to fundraise for various charities to include the Alzheimer Society, Cancer Society, Sick Kids, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and others. She also donated her time at fairs for seniors and high school students and enjoyed delivering presentations to Grade 4 and 5 students regarding Alzheimer's.
Volunteering is a part of her life. Her role model was her grandmother who was very active and who volunteered with political parties. This influenced her and made a positive impression on her and solidified why volunteering is so important. Mridula was very shy when she was young, but she wanted to help others and had the confidence to found a group to engage and educate immigrants about Canadian culture. Doing so forced her to overcome her shyness and gave her the opportunity to learn many skills, increased her confidence and public speaking skills, developed her leadership abilities, as well as her marketing and accounting knowledge, while learning to interact with people of different ages and backgrounds. She planned and organized events through the group, which kept her busy. In the midst of all this, she took care of her husband who had Alzheimer's and who has since passed away.
To Mridula, she feels pride when she engages with people and gives back to the community. She retired in 2011 from RBC and it was through her daughter’s suggestion that she joined Volunteer MBC as a Volunteer Community Outreach Ambassador. She also credits her two grandchildren (11 and 13 years of age) who she gets inspiration from by spending quality time with them both and volunteering at their extra-curricular activities. The achievement she is very proud of is giving back to the community and enriching it.
More recently, Mridula volunteered during the 2015 Pan Am Games and through her role she was responsible for designing and printing the Pachi’s Quill Newsletter. She loves quotes and regularly provided them to the Newsletter. Her most favourite: “Give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you” (Madeline Bridges). There is nothing better than being recognized for making a difference, and at the Games she was recognized as a gold medal performance winner for volunteering.
To her, volunteering helps you build your social networks, helps you feel healthier and happier, both emotionally and physically. Her advice to others interested in getting involved: "Don't think, just do it. Ask. Go to Volunteer MBC where you can choose the hours, location and activity as well as the organization you would like to volunteer with. It's a blessing to be here and to have so many opportunities to contribute to society."
Written by: Lisa Dantas